At the end of the Star Wars prequels, the Empire had a full army of clone troopers, but that army was eventually replaced with normal human Stormtroopers. In the wake of the Empire’s formation and the events of Order 66, Palpatine’s regime began a gradual expansion of centralized power throughout the galaxy, shifting the old systems of the Republic more and more towards a dictatorship. This process was slow and continued up until the events of the original Star Wars, when the last remnants of the Republic were swept away.

The Jango Fett clones who comprised the Grand Army of the Republic were one of those remnants. Though the clone troopers served Palpatine’s purposes perfectly during the Clone Wars, they became a liability in peacetime for a few reasons. The exact timeline of the Empire’s phasing out of clone troopers is different in Legends than in the Canon, but the root motivations remain the same.


In the Legends timeline, the Empire conducted various experiments with cloning after the end of the Clone Wars, including some projects meant to create Force-sensitive soldiers. Clones served as high-level shock troopers and remained a significant military asset for years after the Republic’s dissolution, though eventually they began to be replaced with ordinary recruits. The main motivation for the switch to Stormtroopers was simply that cloning became too expensive. The cost of ordering, growing, and training clones was exorbitant, and the timetable for them to become full soldiers was lengthy. There was also a level of distrust of clones that rose up within the Empire, partially due to a series of rebellions. By 1 BBY (before the battle of Yavin), there were hardly any clones serving in the imperial military, and most who remained were in non-combat roles.

The Canon process of clones being phased out of the Imperial ranks is largely the same as in Legends, albeit with a few changes. The Kamino cloning facilities were shut down in Canon shortly after the end of the war, leaving only one more generation of troopers to be grown and trained. As in Legends, the decision was based primarily on the high cost of cloning, which was no longer necessary without a large-scale conflict being fought. The rest of the Grand Army of the Republic, due to their accelerated aging, began to be gradually replaced in the ranks within the first few years of Imperial rule. By around 5 BBY in the Canon timeline, before the beginning of Star Wars: Rebels, almost all active-duty Stormtroopers were ordinary recruits.

Another possible reason for the switch from clones to recruits is the extra level of control it gave the Empire over different systems. By taking soldiers from all corners of the galaxy – pitching Imperial enlistment as the only way out of an Outer Rim life of poverty, as Luke Skywalker himself saw it – the Empire reduced the risk of rebellion. A planet with children serving in the Imperial Navy would be far less likely to resist Palpatine’s regime than one with nothing to lose. Therefore, replacing the faceless clone troopers with normal human Stormtroopers may have helped Palpatine tighten his grip on the Star Wars galaxy.

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